SMART | focus

Reinventing Masonry

Elizabeth Young

What does that even mean? It means reformulating a material’s ingredients and manufacture to be more efficient, to have a smaller environmental footprint, to be less expensive and more effective. Recycled content. Pigment. Water repellants. Special shapes. Sequestered carbon.

It also means thinking about wall assemblies and construction practices in new ways. Using technological advancements. Building in resiliency. Reusing what is already there and giving it new purpose.

In producing SMART |dynamics of masonry, I feel we can’t help but write about reinventing masonry and how the industry is ever-evolving. Even so, it is worth calling it out for special attention by making it the theme of this issue as a reminder that, while masonry buildings are an important and long-lasting part of our built landscape, we continue to learn how to improve on a great thing.

In this issue, we are all over the board with ways in which industry leaders are Reinventing Masonry. We look at the future with the BIM for Masonry initiative’s development of programs for training mason contractors to become tech-savvy and explore productivity with the introduction of robotic bricklayers on the jobsite. What the launch of LEED v4 means for masonry is explained.

We also look at ways to hold on to what is great and beautiful about historic masonry and give it new life through edgy adaptive reuse projects. After all, the greenest building is the one already built. It takes creative vision to see the beauty and possibility in reusing historic treasures.

Consider the implications of high performance masonry structures surviving natural forces, like earthquakes and high wind storms and providing safe shelter for occupants. Buildings protect people from the elements. Redundant structural masonry wall systems are only part of a building’s total envelope, but ensuring it performs well, and in concert with the other elements, is really the ultimate goal of the built environment. Why would we consider anything less?

As ever, the value of collaboration and a unified masonry industry shines through!

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